Taking risks and building businesses are what POWERHOME Solar CEO Jayson Waller does best, considering each of his past two companies have been even more successful than the first.
As a 25-year-old in 2005, he took money from his own 401k to start his first business, ISI Alarms NC Inc., and in less than eight years, the company reached $12 million in sales. His second company, Power Home Technologies, another home alarms company, reached $30 million annually in sales in three years. Parlaying those successes with his own interest in sustainability, he bought and built POWERHOME Solar into a company that has reached $100 million in revenue in four years. That’s remarkable after starting operations in 2015 with only 15 employees and losing money in the company’s first year in operation.
Given his accomplishments in the clean energy industry, where POWERHOME’s growth has put it in seven states, it is of little surprise that Waller has earned distinction as one of DBusiness Magazine’s five Champions of the New Economy. Waller and the other honorees had the chance to tell their respective stories at a breakfast meeting Tuesday at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch College of Business in downtown Detroit.
“We are here in an industry that is changing everything,” Waller says. “People want to progress. People want technology. People want choice. It’s our obligation to give them that choice.”
What drove POWERHOME’s growth
Waller’s move to working in solar represented a big strategical shift. He already had plenty of experience building successful sales teams, but entering the solar industry meant that POWERHOME had to start scaling installation teams concurrent with sales teams that could keep up with the demand. That also meant building an office staff that works with local jurisdictions to approve the solar systems to be energized. Whatever hurdles that existed were cleared through Waller’s vision and determination. POWERHOME has entered five of its seven states since 2017, with Michigan being one of 2017’s new markets. POWERHOME now has one of its two headquarters offices in Troy, Michigan, with a spacious office that can accommodate future growth.
POWERHOME opened business in its newest state in Indiana in April, and there are plans to grow further.
“What makes Jayson so successful is what makes most entrepreneurs successful. He has passion and drive,” POWERHOME Solar national residential sales director Kenny Klinger says. “Passion is seeing what other people don’t see, vision, where he’s able to look into a marketplace and see things that other folks don’t see. And then he has the drive to be successful. He has the laser focus to make that come true.”
Waller is an integral part of POWERHOME’s success. He’s spearheaded aligning the business with high-profile partnerships with four NFL teams, including the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers, along with ones with the Cleveland Indians of MLB and Duke University Athletics. Every partnership heightens POWERHOME’s brand, and the customers in these markets are heeding the call to green energy. Waller hosts sales meetings, motivating the people that make the business go with inspiring speeches.
POWERHOME’s people and its accolades
Waller is never too busy to do things that help the business. He’s aligned himself with people that he trusts and make the company better. Co-founder Kevin Klink is a childhood friend of Waller and worked with him in the alarms industry. President Steve Murphy was someone tabbed to further help POWERHOME grow rapidly. Vice president of sales Brandon Goodnight joined the team after Waller got a chance to know him when Goodnight worked for a company hired to reroof Waller’s home. Goodnight developed the company’s sales process into what it is today.
Three of those four members of the leadership team don’t bachelor’s degrees, and two of them – Waller and Goodnight – never went to college at all. And yet, they’re guiding a team routinely setting sales records and earning national recognition.
POWERHOME ranked No. 96 on Inc. 500’s list of fastest-growing companies in 2017, and most recently, it was named the No. 12 residential rooftop solar installer in 2018 by Solar Power World, making it the No. 1 installer in all the states it serves. Regionally, POWERHOME Solar was named Michigan’s Emerging Business of the Year by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council last November. The stated goal for 2019 is to reach 1,000 employees, which will mean opening new markets.
“The relative quickness in how fast we’ve expanded is a bit surprising just from one standpoint,” Klinger says. “Not that we’ve expanded in X amount of markets, but the dominance we’ve had in those markets has been a little surprising. Just looking at the landscape, the business in general, that we’re able to go in and with the marketing strategy we have, within a 60- or 90-day period, completely dominate the marketplace for residential solar.”
Quickness is something that stands out with Waller. There is nothing deliberate in how he works. He hustles as much as the team that does the work installing and supporting solar projects, and he expects his employees to follow suit. In fact, at company headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., a dictionary entry for the word “hustle” is emblazoned on a wall in the main call center – a reminder to all what the expectation is at POWERHOME. There’s never contentment with status quo. Once one record is broken, the bar is reset to achieve the next.
“Jayson’s business acumen and leadership are two of the biggest reasons why POWERHOME Solar has grown so quickly,” Murphy says. “His hands-on style and relentless pursuit of building a movement toward clean energy stands in contrast to power companies that primarily and continually use fossil-fueled sources to generate electricity. Jayson and his team have helped customers see the value in solar energy from both financial and environmental perspectives, which is a huge win for us all.”
Remembering what’s important
Waller is also not one just to chase success. He wants to share his success with veterans whose sacrifices have made the U.S. what it is today. POWERHOME donated a solar system to a deserving veteran last summer as part of the Lifetime TV miniseries “Military Makeover,” and he has supported the military in other ways by sponsoring the Patriot Ruck, a walk through downtown Detroit that shows gratitude for the efforts of veterans and first responders. He also wants to share with those less fortunate, as he donated 100 turkey dinners to families in need in Detroit last Thanksgiving. He donated $1,500 to a North Carolina family intent on keeping the memory of their infant son alive by supporting other parents who have their own ailing babies in neonatal intensive care units.
When the word champion is discussed in relation to this DBusiness Magazine honor, it is clear that Waller deserves his standing on the gold medal platform. His success, and POWERHOME’s success, speak volumes to building a movement of clean, green energy. This has been done one family, one solar panel and one home at a time. The building blocks of success came courtesy of a leader who walks the talk every day.
“He never gives up,” says Elizabeth Waller, Jayson’s wife of nearly 20 years. “I know he’s never gonna lose. It’s not in him. It’s one of his best qualities. If you tell him no, he just wants it even more.”
Waller and POWERHOME Solar are indeed champions, and we’d love to work with you in taking your home or business into the world of clean energy. For more information about going solar at home, call us at 800-765-2715, or for more information about going solar at your business, call Mark Tondreau at 248-564-3428.
Work with a champion. Work with POWERHOME Solar, and own your power.